The Alaska Bar Association went to the state Supreme Court on Thursday seeking to suspend Sen. Ted Stevens' law license on an interim basis, pending completion of his appeals.
But he will be allowed to continue receiving Permanent Fund dividends, a state official said.
Under state bar association rules, a felony conviction is effective as soon as the jury rules, said association counsel Steve Van Goor. On voting rights, in contrast, the state says a conviction is effective only on sentencing.
There's no deadline by which the Supreme Court has to decide such a license challenge, said chief deputy court clerk Lori Wade. Stevens has a right to file legal memoranda in his defense.
In the recent case of Jim Clark, the former chief of staff to Gov. Frank Murkowski, interim suspension of his bar license was imposed last May after two months of legal argument. Clark, who pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge related to illegal campaign help from Veco, still awaits sentencing. A final resolution of Clark's bar license will be made after a full disciplinary hearing following the sentencing.
Any final decision on Stevens' license would wait until his appeals have been finished.
Stevens is not actively practicing law in Alaska now, Van Goor said.
While Stevens could ultimately lose his voting rights, he gets to keep his Permanent Fund dividend.
Alaska law specifies that a state resident is ineligible for a PFD in the year he is sentenced "as a result of a conviction in this state of a felony." Since Stevens was convicted by a federal jury in Washington, D.C., he would not lose his eligibility, said Amy Skow, manager of the Permanent Fund Dividend division.
Unless, of course, Stevens gets his wish on appeal and is retried in Alaska, and loses here. He would also lose his check if he were sentenced to jail time and had to spend more than 180 days of the year outside Alaska. Service in Congress is an allowable absence, under state law; time in a federal penitentiary is not.
The Alaska statute is 43:23:005 (d).